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Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece of the dregs of warfare "Full Metal Jacket"
is often thought of
as two films. This is easy to understand when one considers the films
structure. You see most commercials films (as apposed to say "art house"
fare) are divided
into three acts. In the first act the dramatic conflict is introduced, in
act two the challenge of
the conflict is met by the protagonist, and finally in act three the
conflict is resolved. Not so
in FMJ, for you see this film is two act that don't quit "jell" in such a
nice and neat way.
Act one depicts life in marine boot camp. This being the act that the film
is most widely know
for. The second act is where things stray from the norm. You see act two
only contains two
characters from act one. One being the narrator/ protagonist the other a
secondary character. The acts don't flow together in the previously
mentioned three act
manor. In act one we see "Pile" mis-treated while "Joker" tries to help
conform to the
marine ways. "Pile" goes on to commit a murder suicide by killing his
subsequently himself. Then on to act two we see Joker is now "in-country"
correspondent. The only real tie to the first act is when he runs across a
buddy from boot
camp. Each act is treated like its only miniature movie. Act one being
most popular and
two like a weird sequel.
FMJ not only lacks a third act but also cohesive dramatic conflict. In
one the conflict
might be seen as boot camp life and the protagonist could be "Pile". But
"Pile" is obviously
not in act two. One might find traditional conflict in act two but they
would be mistaken for
there is none. So what is the point of all of this you might ask.. Well
see what most
screenwriters and Hollywood filmmakers forget is that there is no cohesive
in life. In life as in FMJ S&^% happens and all we can do is react and
observe. And that's
exactly what Kubrick wants. He wants to show us something and upon seeing
this he wants a
So what is he showing us? In act one he is clearly showing us the
dehumanizing nature of
creating a "good marine". And no this is not just a fictional depiction.
a lot closer to reality
than you might realize. You see the actor portraying the drill segment Lee
Ermey served in
the Marine Corps for 30 months as a ....you guessed it drill instructor.
Much of his now
famous dialogue were his own words. All you have to do is talk to a
about FMJ and
they will tell you that's how it was. The question is how do you a an
audience member react
to this display.
In act two we are given a more "traditional" war film. Though unlike most
Vietnam films FMJ
second act takes place in decaying urban sectors as apposed to the thick
jungles of "Platoon"
or "Apocalypse Now". It doesn't try to get you into anyone's head. Show
experience is changing the character. Kubrick is more interested in the
audience. In the
"Vietnam the movie" sequence soldiers are asked what they think about he
war. There is
none of your John Wayne hallmark patriotic propaganda.
"Do you think we waits gooks for freedom? This is a slaughter." -Animal Mother "I wanted to see Vietnam, the jewel of south East Asia. I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of a ancient culture and kill them" -Joker FMJ is based on Gustav Hasford's novel "The Short Timers". The book was a first for the for the marine and military war correspondent who served in the Vietnam war. Early versions of the novel were developed while Hasford was still serving in the war. Many of the novels central characters were named after pals he served with. Kubrick and Hasford had extensive phone conversations (Kubrick's often preferred manor of collaboration) over the script to what would eventually become Full Metal Jacket. A title Kubrick chose due to "The Short Timers" lack of mass popularity. Kubricks other collaborator was Michael Herr. Who has previously worked with Francis For Copola on the previously mentioned "Apocalypse Now" .
Full Metal Jacket is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. I can watch it over and over again and not get bored of it. "Is that you John Wayne, is this me" Most of the characters are not major movie stars but the way they made the movie makes forget about it. The comedy in this movie from Sargent Hartman names his privates to the scene with Private Joker and Animal Mother. "Well pilgrim only after you eat the peanuts out of my......" you know. Also the Vietnam ladies with those weird jobs. There are many good parts to this movie. If you are planning to see a classic movie sometime, run to the movie store and pick up Full Metal Jacket or just buy it.
No matter how well a movie is made, there are certain things that I remember
about Viet Nam that can never be brought to the people that have never been
All the war movies that I watched or all the training in Boot camp never
prepared me for the fact that very few of the people, both us and them, that
were killed in the jungle, were recovered in a timely fashion.
The dead were left to rot until hostilities stopped. This usually was a long
time, and the memories of what they looked liked and the smell, will never
be forgotten. This to me brought home the real horror of what we where doing
to them, and what they did to us. There are more descriptive memories I
could write here, but this isn't the place.
S.J. Morales-Chandler Capt.U.S.A.F. Ret.
The only film which comes close to capturing what life was like for grunts in Vietnam--wait, that was Platoon! This film would be crap w/o the bootcamp scenes. But because they're in its great. Ermey deserved all of the awards he could carry for his Sgt. Hartman. He pulled off the near impossible--a character who is farcical and brutally realistic. The rest of the film was was the usual "oh boo hoo hoo, we're in Vietnam" claptrap put together by people who weren't there. The whole sniper scene is overwrought but, if you think about it, pointless (people shot at us? gosh she was a girl? c'mon). Kudos, though, for the seamy portrayal of the call girl scene. Papillon Soo was cheated out of her best supporting actress award (and deserves royalties from every 2LiveCrew album ever sold).
This production was the closest I have seen to period I was stationed in the
It reflected the discipline of the time, at least when I was there
I cannot speak for other regions of vietnam, or other services, however this
is how it was during my experiences.
Stanley made another gem here.
Do yourself a favor, after they leave boot camp turn the movie off. The actual battle scenes cover territory that is much more effectively covered elsewhere (e.g., "All Quiet on the Western Front"). The first half of the movie, however, ranks up there with the best of them. The drill sergeant in this movie puts Louis Gossett, Jr.'s character in "An Officer and a Gentleman" to shame.
If this movie was about war, it might be seen as mediocre. That's perhaps
why there are so many people deceived with the development of the
Full Metal Jacket is about the way the human soul reacts to warfare; The way we prepare men for it, the way we look at it, not only the way we suffer it but also the way we 'see' it. The films character 'Joker' is like the playing card with the same name: It changes 'ad hoc'. More than the anti-war person that he happens to be, 'Joker' is the distant observer of a phenomenon he doesn't regard as his own but one that he is progressively part of. This dynamic process, from the absent recruit to the compassionate executer of a girl warrior happens through the eyes of a camera, the scenario being the very 'ink' that paints blood black. That may be the main reason for the sequence of the second part of the film. Kubrik spares the spectator to an excessive exposure to the 'horrors' of war concentrating, rather, on the relationship of a conscious human, 'Joker', with the 'facts of war' as he becomes progressively familiar with them (that's why Joker is a journalist, not a nurse). Far from an unrealistic and static picture of war, the second part of the film is relatively stripped of action of men suffering war in order to expose war as an external phenomenon, through Joker's pictures. That's how Joker sees it in the begining of the second part. We have here a picture not of war itself, but the 'ways in war' of the type of warrior that went through the first part of the film and, eventually, survived and the critical observation made by Joker of their deeds. Note that if 'Joker' was pro-war character the film could be quite the same except for the feeling expressed by Joker himself regarding the killing of the Vietcong girl. Full Metal Jacket starts with a critical analysis of the distortion of human values by army training or, as one might see it, 'restraining' of the human being and ends with a reflection on the necessity and the inevitability of that distortion through the rendition of Joker's character.
The here is not 'Form whom the bell tolls', not even a remark (amongst many) that it does. Full Metal Jacket, a type of ammunition itself, is a look into the sound of the bell.
All in all, a masterpiece.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't think its even the best Vietnam Movie( Platoon is), but nonetheless, its still a good movie. R.Lee Ermey gives an oustanding performance as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. His performance is what carries the first half of this movie. The boot camp scenes are excellent. The Tet Offensive part is the weakest, but Matthew Modine turns in a good performance. The sniper scene at the end was very good. (SPOILERS) I never would have expected the sniper to be a young girl. Overall a good movie, it just ran kinda slow in some places. 7/10
Full Metal Jacket is a great film, loaded with unforgettable scenes.
Halfway into the movie, however, it seems like a second movie
begins instead of being the conclusion to the story (when Joker
goes to Vietnam.) The movie plays out to be a dramatic
documentary that continues regardless of the pain Joker
encounters on his journey in life.
This is a fantastic Stanley Kubric movie. He shows the hard world of the marines in America. One of the strong points is the strong story and even sometimes you have to laugh. My favorite scene is the one were they sing "This my rifle this is my gun, this is for killing this is for fun" you have to see the movements they make when they sing this song. It's one to watch believe me! greetings Bart
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